Banking on Digital Growth
Banking on Digital Growth

Episode · 2 years ago

8) #ExponentialInsights: How Can Financial Brands Help Community Businesses w/ Seth Siegel-Gardner


A life in hospitality prepared my guest, Seth Siegel-Gardner Chef and Owner of Para Llevar, for a creative life where thinking on your feet in a chaotic environment is a valuable asset.  

In a post-Covid 19 world, everyone from the hospitality industry, to mom and pop shops,  most of the local businesses in our communities are being forced to adapt and pivot into entirely new business models or face shutting their doors.

Your financial brand can help if you also adapt and pivot towards your community.

What we talked about:

-The role of community banks and credit unions in support of their communities

-Small businesses are facing unprecedented challenges

-The need for fluidity and ingenuity in a post-Covid 19 world

This episode is hosted by James Robert Lay  Founder and CEO at Digital Growth Institute

You can find this interview, and many more, by subscribing to the Banking on Digital Growth on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher on Spotify, Google Play or here.

If we're going to take it to this next level and require all this more equipment. Nobody is going to hand that stuff to us for free, and we're already operating on razor thin margins. You are listening to banking on digital growth with James Robert Laigh, a podcast that empowers financial brand, marketing, sales and leadership teams to maximize their digital growth potential by generating ten times more loans and deposits. Today's episode is part of the exponential insight series, where James Robert Interviews the industry's top marketing, sales and FINTECH leaders, sharing practical wisdom to exponentially elevate you and your team. Let's get into the show. Hey, guys, it's James Robert. I wanted to give you a quick heads up that my exponential insight guests today is a bit different, because he does not work at a bank or credit union, or even in the industry for that matter. In fact, he is a chef that has worked all around the world. He's received six James Beard Foundation nominations, plus his restaurant was voted the number one restaurant in Houston, Texas by the Houston Chronicle. I brought him on today's show for a conversation because the exponential insights that he shared airs provides a great perspective into the hearts and minds of small business owners that so many financial brands have an opportunity to step up and help. And with the fumbles made by some of the big nationals like chase, wells, Fargo and B of a with the whole PPP application process, this is a time for community financial brands to step up and guide small businesses over the coming months and years. In fact, Ron Chevelin noted in a recent article on Forbes that more than six and ten small businesses that currently bank with a Mega Bank like B of a, chase and wells or a large regional that's greater than a hundred billion on assets. Those businesses, said Bay were somewhat are very likely to look for a new banking relationship in the next year, and that was before PPP. So take a minute and for this episode over to Your Business Lending and business development teams, because there really is no greater time than now for community financial brands to turn the tide of small business lending and deposit decline. Greetings in Hello, I am James Robert Laigh, and welcome to another episode of the banking on digital growth podcast. Today's episode is part of the exponential insight series and I'm excited to welcome Seth Single Gardner to the show because he has a lot of perspective to care for financial brands, to listen to to learn from during this post covid nineteen world as seth is the chef and owner at Peri of are in Marfa, Texas. Welcome to the show's Steth thank you. Thank you. So I've known you now for probably right around ten years, if that a little bit longer, since you came to Houston to open up a restaurant. Yeah, and just for some context for our audience, can you just give us a little bit of backstory about how you got to where you are today, because I'd never in my widest dreams would think that I'd be bringing a chef on to talk about what what financial services can do. But this covid nineteen world has just transformed I think everything. The old rule books are out and we got to start putting together some thinking and some collaboration across multiple industries, particularly at the community level. But before we get there, just give us some context into how you got to where you are in this world today. Yeah, how I went from working in restaurant in New York City and London and Chicago to a town of like two thousand people? Yeah, well, I grew up in Houston,... Houston always will be home, and I went to school, got a philosophy degree at the University of Denver, which obviously I'm putting to good use going directly into the restaurant business. After that we lived didn worked in New York for about seven years. Spent most of my time working in fine dining restaurants there. Worked with Marcus Samuelson at his restaurant called Oquavit, or worked in other midtown or another midtown restaurant, Alto, and then helped Gordon Ramsey open on the opening team of the Gordon Ramsey restaurant and in New York as were open, or another restaurant for Marcus in Chicago. Then moved to London and worked in London for a year and then eventually came back to Houston, where worked around Ho Houston for a little while and then opened our restaurant the passing provisions, and we were open for almost seven years in Houston and then now I've been working on these projects out in West Texas, one at the distillery project and then working on a few restaurants. The one that's open now is party of the Tier Restaurant. Yeah, so you've seen a lot, you've experienced a lot and I think right now that's where I want to think. The conversation is based upon all of this experience and thinking about your own journey. One of the things that you said when we started this conversation was really two things. You're having to adapt the dream, adapt and pivot. What are you seeing right now with just your peers, with this post covid nineteen world, and how they're having to adapt and change and pivot their business model? Like? What does it look like from practically speaking, on the ground? But think, I mean it's it's pretty because obviously everybody is loves their restaurants and loves the kind of their neighborhood spots. They're watching their restaurants turn into to go restaurants. So that's the obvious pivot that everyone is making now is now everyone has a secure restaurant and I think that that is that's the necessary evil for a lot of restaurant people, because there's never you know, when we had our full service restaurant and Houston, we hated the idea of doing to go food, but you know, it was just part of the business and you had to do it. Now it's essentially one of the only parts of the business and I think some of the other a lot of people are pushing, you know, by Gift Cards. I personally have some issue with that, but gift cards are stupid in my opinion and it's like literally setting your money on fire. But I understand that it gives people, I guess, a little bit of comfort in knowing that like, hopefully I'm helping my my restaurant stay there. I just my question is going to be what happens when you buy all these gift cards for these places that have closed post? But then I think that a lot of people are going to digital stuff, so, you know, it's like getting your online store up and running as quickly as possible. Is the only situation right now that I think it's going to keep places of float, because most people in most major cities are not going to want to come and have that direct interaction with with a waiter or a bartender or something like that. So I think, you know, we're turning into this world where it's like you can't even see the people anymore. So I think a lot of our friends of you know, I would guess that as two or three weeks ago, everybody called whoever was making their website or they were making it themselves, and the amount of searches that were probably like how do I set up an online store? You know,...

...went through the roof. We had it always in our model that we were going to do online ordering. So I wasn't initially going to push it out for a couple weeks after we open, but of course it was like we need to get this going as quickly as possible. Seeing a lot of people do that. But I think a lot of restaurants are just going to start, have already started closing and or at least temporary closing, and unfortunately that's what's going to be continue to happen until we get some direction on what like the next version of normal sue looks like for the hospitality business. Well, and see, that's where I see. They probably the biggest opportunity from my perspective of the banking world and working with community banks working with kredit unions because that is essential to a local community, just as these local restaurants are centrals of the community. From your worldview and your experience, how m a credit union or a community bank might be able to support some of these local restaurants during this time of chaos, when we're just trying to figure out what what that new normal looks like. I think it's an understanding of how the restaurants have to or, you know, restaurants and till maybe even a lesser extent, bars, have to pivot their operations because now there's a lot of things that they're a lot of inventory they need to take on. That was completely unexpected. Like, like we mentioned, some of our industry friends going to like the kind of the taken bake model of like here's was on ya, take it home, you know, throw it in the oven. So at least you're cooking, but you're not necessarily doing dishes or anything like that. So I think there's a huge pivot to that. And those dishes, all that stuff costs money. That is no, there's no line I them in that budget. You know the idea that we're going to go to. You know, eventually they're going to start enforcing laws about restaurant workers have to wear masks, even if you're to go have to wear gloves, like there's I think the restaurants are some of the safest in terms of food handling out there. But if we're going to take it to this next level and require all this more equipment, and you know if nobody's going to hand that stuff to us for free, and we're already operating on razor thin margins as it is. So now you know you have to how many pairs of gloves do you have to per person? How many masks per person per day? Things like that that I think are unknown. And you know, if we're just spending that money, it's going to it's going to thank US pretty fast. Yeah, and and so it's this new normal, it's new inventory. Also, I see there's an opportunity for and you've done this even with your own website, almost supporting our friends. You have a page on your website with eighth wonder, fluff, baked bar, southern Swatan so many others. Is there an opportunity for a community financial institution, a bank or Credit Union, to almost build a community page to promote these local business these, these these restaurants, these bars, in a more direct manner, because if we truly are in this together, let's put our money where I'm is right. Absolutely, I think. If you know, you think about it like you know, it's we're for better or worse, we're in a virtual world right now and we need to have like a virtual neighborhood to for all of our all of our close friends. And Yeah, there's you know, the people are still going to be using you know, Amazon's going to be as busy as they've ever been, things like that. But I think that there's going to be a point where, if you want a little bit more authenticity to some of...

...the goods that you're buying, you need to keep supporting those local businesses and those like creative people in your community that are, you know, trying to stay a slow while we're living in an unknown world of like what next month like the what next week? When next month, and what's until there's a vaccine? What that all looks like? Technology has transformed our world and digital has changed the way consumers shop for and buy financial services forever. Now, consumers make purchase decisions long before they walk into a branch. If they walk into a branch at all. But your financial brand still wants to grow loans and deposits. We get it. Digital growth can feel confusing, frustrating and overwhelming for any financial brand marketing and sales leader. But it doesn't have to, because James Robert wrote the book that guides you ever every step of the way along your digital growth journey. Visit www dot digital growthcom to get a preview of banking on digital growth. It is a strategic marketing manifesto that was written to say financial brands and it is packed full of practical, improven insights you can use to confidently generate ten times more loans and deposits. Now back to the show. I'm going to hypothesize with you on this because you brought up the idea of the concept of the taken bake. You know my wife and I. We have four kids. We're talking about this before. It's a lot of miles the feed, but we've done some of the taken bake concepts now. But I'm a financial brand, I work in marketing and I'm looking to promote local businesses, local restaurants, local bars. I have this idea to where I want to go and talk to ten restaurants and see if they'd be open. It almost doing like a like a taken bake, but almost like a facebook live how to cook that Lasagna and how to how to make it myself at home. But it gives that restaurant some publicity within the community, the digital community of that financial brand on facebook. It's something that can be shared and be a little bit more organic, local, if you will. Is that a concept that you think other restaurants from your from your perspective, might be inclined to collaborating with a local community institution to cocreate some content together? I would think that restaurants and kind of just the hospitality business in general, if you are going through this process like narrow mindedly years screwed like they're. So I think people need to be open to every idea. I think they you know, just you got to figure out, like how you're going to produce it. What the like? Are People getting paid for it? I think there's a lot of ways that something like that could work, but also, you know, maybe it's to help benefit people in the hospital industry and things like that that are I think that now more than ever, we need to create a community that's kind of helping each other and I think that in the hospitality business we always want, you know, or want to like want you and your family and your four kids and like to come and sit down and like, you know, escape for a minute. So I think in our restaurant. So now we have to figure out how to do that in people's like living rooms and in their home offices, but then in a way that they feel good about what they're doing. So if they're spending money to have like a cook at home with your family, class or something like that, I think it would be interesting if it could be interactive as well and so you can communicate with the chef. That would be, like you're saying, with that whole facebook live but being able to you know, I always think that there's going to be it's going to be that personal...

...chef interaction situation and you know, maybe it's a small amount of money, but maybe it's something that, if you do enough of those classes like it, it makes sense for you to have your cooks they're doing the classes and teaching them how to talk to guess because I mean, you know, just talking to my peers over text and, you know, quick phone conversations about what's next. It's like, you know, are you going to rush to a restaurant once they lift some of the mandates? Are Are you going to go to a restaurant? You know, are they're still going to be open kitchens when you go to restaurants, or they going to like put plastic screens up like it's there's so many things that I think are going to change. That trends that have happened that I think a lot of guests like that. Probably you're going to have to go away. So how do we keep creating that experience for people going forward that isn't just like this really sterile feeling unsafe when your waiter comes up to you with a mask and gloves on or something like that? So that's a that's a really point. It's yeah, they might lift some of this, but we've been so psychologically scaled art, if you will, that it's going to take some time before we build courage to go back up and venture out and be around people. I see this is where the once again, the financial brands can can come together and support the local community, beyond just giving access to loans but also being part of the promotion of some of these local restaurant and bar brands. I May, I've even made recommendations to a couple of clients. You know, work with your local bars to do a virtual happy hour and then bring in like a solo show and everyone can just kind of have that sense of community and just exactly. I think that's really smart and I think that's like kind of the part of the direction that we're I think we're nothing is off the table now. Yeah, yeah, you know you. We're talking about community and I know that Chris Shepherd, he started the southern smoke foundation. You were kind of he came early on and Y'all were having conversations. Can you talk about what the southern smoke foundation is what it's doing, because I think it's another model that, looking at it objectively from the outside, you're not even waiting for financial institutions to provide support to the hospitality industry. The hospitality industry is almost created some type of a financial vehicle mechanism to support one another, which I find to be very fascinating and I think it has to do with a lot. I mean, we're are most people that are in the restaurant business are pretty like I like some thing pretty hard people. They don't like to take handouts, they don't like to ask for help. So I think what Chris has done, as he's put it, set it up in a way that, you know, it's we're helping each other, we're not just holding our hands out asking for money, and I think that it's changed a lot of me. And it started out as the way to raise money for one of Chris's oldest friends, Antonio, when he got diagnosed with Ms. and then when Harvey Hit, it was like, all right, we need to pivot this to helping people affected by Harvey. And obviously now it's like, you know, the hospitality business is going to take one of the hardest hits. I mean they took the immediate hit on this, but the supply chain of what happens through the hospitality business with delivery drivers, farmers, you know, it's it's going to be huge. What is going to be affected by it. And so immediately, yeah, you're your bartender, your weight or all these people like they're. They lost their jobs instantly. There was no like holding on to him for a couple weeks to see what happened. It was it was a you know, no money in, no money out. And... know, most people don't know, restaurants are on fifteen to thirty day, you know net so they're all everyone's bills are coming to do right about now, right probably. So you got a lot of suppliers that are, you know, asking for those fifteen, twenty five thousand dollar checks to cover all your drag goods for the past month or something like that. So I think that there's just with southern smoke. I think it was. It is an amazing way that Chris has and his team that he's grown through, you know, just the initial idea of like let's throw a party and raise some money into like this, like jugger not of like, you know, basically helped that they're providing. Yeah, just transitioned, but I think it's going to continue to grow and I think a lot of people are going to look at that model and understand, like this is how you can really help a community. Yeah, I mean if if I was working out a financial brand and I was committed to supporting the local community. This is an example. And for context, and this was late March, southern smoke foundation had received thirty five hundred applications for hospitality workers. That were either laid off or furloughed because of covid nineteen and they numbers going to seventeen thousand in just a few weeks. But I know that the restaurant workers community foundation out of New York valed to give half of its fundraising the southern smoke. So it's generating millions of dollars. That is better than being transition back into the hospitality community. Any financial brand can look at this and say wow, that's something that I could get involved with and support, either financially or in other ways, just promotionally wise, because it's about really people helping people. At this point, exactly as we wrap up, you know, you've got an audience of Financial Brand Marketing Team, sells teams, leadership teams listening to this. What is one recommendation that you can make to them from you know, you you in the hospitality industry, because this is, you know, twelve months, eighteen months, is what I'm projecting and what I'm making recommendations round strategically operationally for Financial Brands. And then what happens after that? You know, it's still too fuzzy, but that's what a lot of people are projecting for us to get through this together. What's one recommendation that you can make to help someone like your community from their perspective of financial services? I think it's creating a model so that businesses can pivot on that model and and start seeing some growth again. I think that a lot of like full service restaurants that are in in the takeout business, like here, you know if you're doing, if you've gone to you know, let's say you're only operating at twenty percent of where you need to be. Like where do you need to be to bring act the number of employees that makes sense to get you at least a fifty percent or something like that, like there is no I mean if, yeah, of course, if you can get businesses whole again, that would be amazing, and I do think some are seeing that because, you know, they're just saying, like look, you know, it's maybe with a barbecue restaurant or something like. I stand in line of the barbecue place. I don't get to sit down in the barbecue place, but I still know that they're doing like a start to finish their filling their smokers and emptying their smokers at the end of the day and they're done. Yeah, maybe they're not selling as much beer on site or, you know, soft drinks or something like that. But I just think figuring out a way that you can help the businesses pivot into like a digital world without up front cost to them. That's huge right there. So I think that's like such a great key takeaway to end on, and I'm going to summarize that almost pulling together, for lack of a better word, a community innovation collaboration project facilitated by the local... brand to bring together different people from different businesses to solve real problems for a digital first world. Is that? Is that a fair summary of that thinking? Absolutely, and I think a lot of us come from the old school where we didn't this isn't like anything that we ever thought we'd have to wrap our heads around. Yeah, yeah, well, speaking of now wrapping our heads around, it's it's it is, it's happening so fast. Continue. Yeah, that, yeah, we're just, you know, it just it. Never, never in my wildest dreams would I think that, you know, we're going to sell restaurant that I love going to with my wife for special occasions. Now are going to be selling a hundred percent of all the food they sell online. is a crazy thing to think about. It really isn't. And it's almost like, you know what happened years ago when like the blue aprons of the world came out, that it wasn't taken bake. It was almost like shippin bake. But that's happening almost at a local market level now. So it's strange times for sure, but I see a lot of opportunity for those and, to really use your words, those that can can adapt and can pivot and not get stuck in that that old thinking, because the world's ever going to be the same again. Hey, set thank you so much for the conversation today. Man, always good, always good hearing from absolutely if anyone has it, including me. Yeah, if anyone has questions for you, because you just bring such a unique perspective and they want to connect, they want to say hello. What's the best way for them to do that? Obviously emailing. I think I've provided some of that stuff. And then you know, social media, instagram, facebook. I mean I think my perspective is limited, but you know, I've been in the restaurant business my entire life and you know, kind of gathering as much information from friends as possible. Just try and understand like the problems we're going to face and, you know, look into that magic ad ball. Yes, Sir said, thanks again for joining me on another episode of banking on digital growth. All right, thank you. Until next time, be well, do good and wash your hands. Thank you for listening to another episode of banking on Digital Growth with James Robert Laigh. Like what you hear, tell a friend about the podcast and leave us a review on Itunes, stitcher or spotify, and subscribe while you're there to get even more practical, improven insights that can guide you in your financial brand along your digital growth journey. Visit www dot digital growthcom to get a preview of James Roberts upcoming book, banking on Digital Growth, a strategic marketing manifesto to save financial brands. Inside you'll find a strategic blueprint framed around twelve key areas of focus that empower you to confidently generate ten times more loans and deposits. Until next time, be well and do good.

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